Al-Qa’ida(translates to: The Base)

Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK – Services Office)

International Islamic Front for Jihad Against

the Jews and Crusaders

Usama Ibn Ladin / Osama bin Laden

Al-Qa’ida is multi-national, with members from

numerous countries and with a worldwide presence. Senior leaders in the

organization are also senior leaders in other terrorist organizations,

including those designated by the Department of State as foreign terrorist

organizations, such as the Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian

al-Jihad. Al-Qa’ida seeks a global radicalization

of existing Islamic groups and the creation of radical Islamic groups

where none exist.

Al-Qa’ida supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan,

Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and now Kosovo. It also

trains members of terrorist organizations from such diverse countries

as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea.

Al-Qa’ida‘s goal is to “unite all Muslims

and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs.”

Bin Ladin has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphate is by

force. Al-Qa’ida‘s goal, therefore, is to overthrow

nearly all Muslim governments, which are viewed as corrupt, to drive Western

influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.

Usama Bin Ladin, a multi-millionaire ex-Saudi

financier who is a principal source of funding and direction for Al-Qa’ida,

has been described by the US Government as “one of the most significant

financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today.”

Usama Bin Ladin was born around 1955 in Jeddah,

Saudi Arabia. He is the youngest son of Muhammad Bin

Ladin, a wealthy Saudi of Yemeni origin and founder of the Bin

Ladin Group, a construction firm heavily involved with Saudi Government

contracts.

Usama Bin Ladin left Saudi Arabia to fight

against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1979.

He sponsored and led a number of Arabs fighting in Afghanistan

against the Soviets in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s he co-founded the Maktab

al-Khidamat (MAK) or Services Office, to help funnel fighters and money

to the Afghan resistance in Peshawar with the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood

leader Abdallah Azzam. The MAK ultimately established recruitment centers

around the world — including in the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan

— that enlisted, sheltered, and transported thousands of individuals

from over 50 countries to Afghanistan to

fight the Soviets. It also organized and funded paramilitary training

camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bin

Ladin imported heavy equipment to cut roads and tunnels and to build

hospitals and storage depots in Afghanistan.

As many as 10,000 Arabs received training and combat experience in Afghanistan.

Of these, nearly half were Saudis, with others including more than 3000

Algerians, 2000 Egyptians, and hundreds of others from Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan,

Syria and other Muslim states.

Bin Ladin split from Azzam in the late 1980s to extend his campaign to

all corners of the globe while Azzam remained focused only on support

to Muslims waging military campaigns. Bin Ladin formed a new organization

in 1988 called Al-Qa’ida — the military “base.” After Azzam

was killed by a car bomb in late 1989, the MAK split, with the extremist

faction joining Bin Ladin‘s organization. Bin Ladin returned to work in

his family’s Jeddah-based construction business after the Soviets withdrew

from Afghanistan in 1989, but he continued his organization to support

opposition movements in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

After Afghanistan, Bin-Ladin ran the Jihad Committee which includes the

Egyptian Islamic Group and the Jihad Organization in Yemen, the Pakistani

al-Hadith group, the Lebanese Partisans League, the Libyan Islamic Group,

Bayt al-Imam Group in Jordan, and the Islamic Group in Algeria. This committee

runs the Islamic Information Observatory center in London, which organizes

media activity for these organizations, and the Advisory and Reformation

Body which also has a bureau in London.

In 1991 he relocated to the Sudan, and in 1994 he was stripped of his

Saudi citizenship after Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen accused him of

supporting subversive groups. Although the Afghan war had ended, Al-Qa’ida

has remained a formidable organization consisting of mujahedin of many

nationalities who had previously fought with Bin Ladin. Many of these

have remained loyal to and continue working with him today.

Sudan harbors a number of terrorist groups, although in May 1996 it expelled

Bin Laden and members of some terrorist groups under Saudi pressure, and

in response to U.S. insistence and to the threat of UN sanctions following

Sudan’s alleged complicity in the attempted assassination of Egyptian

President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia in 1995.

Bin Laden quickly returned to Afghanistan

after leaving Sudan, where his support for and participation in Islamic

extremist activities continued. Since departing Sudan he is said to have

changed considerably, suspecting that there are plots to murder him, so

he reportedly now only trusts only a narrow circle of people. He is reported

to act on the premise that attack is the best line of defense, rather

than efforts to unify extremist groups.

Prior to the emergence of the Taleban he was functioning and moving around

freely while Rabbani and Massood ruled in Kabul. Bin Laden was subsequently

reported to be living in Taleban-held Jalalabad in Afghanistan with about

50 of his family members and bodyguards. A few months after his arrival

in Afghanistan the Taleban gained control over Jalalabad and Kabul, and

launched a campaign against the “Arab Afghans.” In February

1997 the Taleban rejected an American agreement to turn Bin Ladin over

to them in return for international recognition and obtaining Afghanistan‘s

seat in international organizations. But in early 1997 at least two large

bombs were detonated in Jalalabad as part of attempts to assassinate Bin Ladin, including a 19 March 1997 explosion that destroy the police station,

killing more than 50 and wounding 150. Bin Ladin subsequently moved to

Kandahar from his Jalalabad stronghold as a result of concerns for his

personal safety. Kandahar is the stronghold of the Students of the Shari’ah’s,

and the central residence of the Commander of the Faithful al-Mulla Muhammad

‘Umar. The Taleban Islamic State of Afghanistan claimed that they moved

him to Kandahar to keep him under strict limitations [according to some

reports he was under house arrest], and that he was no longer allowed

to use Afghan soil to cause harm to any country, including Saudi Arabia.

Most recently he was reportedly moving between four or five camps in

Afghanistan which are the bases for about 200 followers staying with him.

He has financed and supported some 600 or 700 other people outside Afghanistan.

Bin Laden is said to have established cells of supporters in Yemen, and

as of late 1996 it was reported that an additional 2,000 “Afghans”

were resident in Somalia and the Ogaden region, with relatively few actually

in Afghanistan.

Bin-Ladin provides money to humanitarian organizations and to Islamic

publications and groups. He advocates the destruction of the United States,

which he sees as the chief obstacle to reform in Muslim societies. Since

1996, his anti-U.S. rhetoric has escalated to the point of calling for

worldwide attacks on Americans and allies, including civilians.

Bin-Ladin was involved in operations against the American forces in Somalia

in 1993.

In 1995 it was reported that Bin Ladin had agreed to finance a “Gulf

Battalion” organized by the Iranian Guardians of the Revolution.

It was suggested that he had convinced Yemeni fundamentalist leader Shaykh

‘Abd-al-Majid al-Zandani, to position elements of the Gulf Battalion in

al-Zandani’s camps in Yemen for deployment in Gulf countries when circumstances

permited.

Osama Bin Laden is suspected by the US of being responsible for 1996 bomb

attacks on American service personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

In mid-1996 a meeting of various leaders convened by Bin Laden reached

a consensus “to use force to confront all foreign forces stationed

on Islamic land,” and to form a planning committee; a financing,

supply, and mobilization committee; and a higher military committee to

oversee implementation of the plan.

Bin Ladin publicly issued his “Declaration of War” against the

United States in August 1996. When anti-U.S. attacks did not materialize

immediately, he explained the delay: “If we wanted to carry out small

operations, it would have been easy to do so immediately after the statements.

Even the nature of the battle requires good preparation.”

In November 1996 he pronounced as “praiseworthy terrorism” the

bombings in Riyadh and at Khobar in Saudi Arabia, promising that other

attacks would follow. He admitted carrying out attacks on U.S. military

personnel in Somalia and Yemen, declaring that “we used to hunt them

down in Mogadishu.”

He stated in an interview broadcast in February 1997 that “if someone

can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other

matters.”

In February 1998, Bin Ladin announced the creation of a new alliance of

terrorist organizations, the “International Islamic Front for Jihad

Against the Jews and Crusaders.” The Front included the Egyptian

al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Harakat ul-Ansar,

and two other groups. The Front declared its intention to attack Americans

and our allies, including civilians, anywhere in the world. By at least

February 1998, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad had effectively merged with

al Qaeda and joined with al Qaeda in targeting American civilians.

In May 1998, he stated at a press conference in Afghanistan

that we would see the results of his threats “in a few weeks.”

On 07 August 1998 a car bomb exploded behind the US Embassy, killing 291

persons and wounding about 5,000. The majority of the casualties were

Kenyan citizens. Twelve US citizens died, and six were injured in the

attack. A group calling itself the “Islamic Army for the Liberation

of the Holy Places” immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks

in Nairobi and a near-simultaneous explosion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

US officials believe the group is a cover name used by Usama

Bin Ladin‘s al-Qaida organization. Indictments were returned in the

US District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Usama

Bin Ladin and 11 other individuals for these and other terrorist acts

against US citizens. At yearend, four of the indicted- Wadih El Hage,

Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, and Mohammed Sadeeck

Odeh-were being held in New York, while Khalid al-Fawwaz remained in the

United Kingdom pending extradition to the United States. The other suspects

remain at large. The Government of Kenya cooperated closely with the United

States in the criminal investigation of the bombing. On 20 August 1998,

President Clinton amended Executive Order 12947 to add Usama

Bin Ladinand his key associates to the list of terrorists, thus blocking
< br /> their US assets-including property and bank accounts-and prohibiting all

US financial transactions with them. Bin Laden remains in Afghanistan

under the protection of the Taliban, an ultra-conservative Islamic militia

that controls most of that country. The United States conducted a bombing

run — Operation Infinite Reach — against bin Laden’s facilities there

on 20 August 1998.

Bin-Ladin’s investments include companies involved in property management,

maritime transport, aircraft rental, public works, contracting and other

commercial activities in a number of countries. His investments in Sudan

include construction and agricultural projects, with other commercial

activities in Somalia, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. His European interests

are managed by lawyers in Switzerland, which makes his financial dealings

and support to terrorism difficult, but not impossible, to follow.

Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security

Council on 15 October 1999 demanded that the Afghan faction, known as

the Taliban, turn over Usama bin Laden to appropriate authorities in a

country where he would be brought to justice. In that context, it decided

that on 14 November 1999 all States shall freeze funds and prohibit the

take-off and landing of Taliban-owned aircraft unless or until the Taliban

complies with that demand. Since the Taliban did not comply with this

obligation, the measures of the resolution have entered into effect.

Taliban representatives had stated that they were totally opposed to

terrorism, but that Mr. bin Laden was a guest, that he had become a resident

of Afghanistan prior to the Taliban taking control, and that he no longer

had communication with his followers. At the same time, the official spokesman

of Al-Qaida has stated that they have been supplying fighters to Chechnya.

It seems that they are active not only in Chechnya, but have worried the

other Central Asian republics, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and even Iran.

They are certainly turning up in Kashmir, which is one of the important

flash points in the world. In mid-December 1999 the Jordanian police arrested

members of a cell planning attacks against western tourists. This cell

was linked to Usama bin Laden. On 14 December 1999 Customs agents arrested

an Algerian national smuggling almost 50 pounds of explosive materials

and detonating devices into the United States. The other Algerians subsequently

arrested in connection with this plot apparently were “Afghan alumni,”

trained with the mujahedin in Afghanistan and also linked to Usama bin

Laden.

In testimony 02 February 2000 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet said Usama

Bin Ladin “is still foremost” among terrorists planning

attacks against the United States and that more than half of 24 terrorists

brought to justice since July 1998 “were associates” of Bin

Ladin‘s Al-Qa’ida organization. He said

that despite some disruptions, U.S. intelligence officials believe Bin

Ladin could strike without warning, and that the terrorist — along

with others — is “placing increased emphasis on developing surrogates

to carry out attacks in an effort to avoid detection.”

The United States on 08 May 2000 indicted two Egyptians being held in

London for the deadly bombing of United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya,

and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 1998, which resulted in more than

200 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries. The US indictment was filed in

New York City and superceded a previous indictment related to the bombing.

The indictment brought to 17 the total number of persons charged, six

of whom are in custody in the United States and three in the United Kingdom.